Make your own first-aid kit
Since medical attention is seldom close by when on the water, you should have a marine first-aid kit that is well stocked, up-to-date and at the ready.
Stock it with the supplies needed to treat any ailment; injuries on the water come in many forms and degrees of severity, from an embedded fishhook to gaping cuts and broken bones.
If a life-threatening injury occurs, you should first make a mayday call on channel 16 to report the emergency and then call 911 if cellphone reception is available.
Before assembling your first-aid kit
Start by finding or purchasing a plastic air-tight storage container to keep your first-aid supplies dry. Label the lid “first-aid kit.”
Next, be prepared. Take a first-aid and CPR course, and remember to the three basics of first aid: restore breathing, stop severe bleeding, and treat shock.
Basic first-aid kit supplies
- Stomach remedies to prevent or treat motion sickness (meclizine such as Antivert or Bonine), indigestion, diarrhea and heartburn
- Antihistamine for allergic reactions
- Anti-itch lotion or soothing cream for treating insect bites, sunburn, and other minor skin irritations
- Butterfly bandages and narrow adhesive strips to close gaping cuts
- Adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
- Individually wrapped 2-inch and 4-inch sterile gauze pads to control bleeding
- Hypoallergenic adhesive tape to hold a dressing or splint in place
- Roll of absorbent cotton as padding for a splint or to control bleeding
- Sterile roller bandages, at least three rolls in 2- and 3-inch widths to support strained muscles
- Eye drops (artificial tears)
- Antiseptic ointment, spray or wipes for cleansing wounds
- Antibiotic ointment (neomycin, bacitracin) to prevent infection of minor wounds
- Pain or fever reducers: high dose aspirin (to chew in case of suspected heart attack), acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen
- Clean towels (small and large) to control bleeding or as a wrap for ice
- Chemical ice packs if you don’t carry ice on board
- First-aid handbook
Always carry at least twice the number of bottles of water as there are passengers on board on short trips lasting a few hours. Use sunscreen and reapply as directed. –Sylvia Wedge
This article first appeared in South Wind, newsletter of Sarasota Power & Sail Squadron/22.
Prepare for any crisis
Learn how to handle any emergency while underway by taking our Emergencies Onboard seminar.